Friday, February 24, 2012
As expected, pre-stage favourite David Zabriskie (Garmin-Barracuda) took out the opening 20.3 kilometre time trial at Le Tour de Langkawi on Friday with a time of 0:24:34.18. Zabriskie now wears the first yellow jersey of the 2012 stage race.
Roman Van Uden (New Zealand) was the first man out of the start house but it was his cross-Tasman rivals who set the day's benchmarks for the heavy hitters like Zabriskie and teammate Tom Danielson to chase.
Drapac's Darren Lapthorne stopped the clock at 0:25:44.85 before teammate Adam Phelan set the new best time of 0:25:34.48. Langkawi marks Phelan's first race since a severe concussion in December while on a team training camp ruled him out of the Australian Road Championships and the New Zealand Cycle Classic. Admitting that his time in the hot seat may have be limited with Zabriskie and Danielson yet to start, the 20-year-old could never have imagined that his time would stand for as long as it did.
Last March, Phelan won the prologue time trial at the Tour of Taiwan but he admitted that the 20.3km distance on Friday was a new frontier: "I had no experience with 20km time trials," he said.
Joe Cooper (New Zealand) moved into third position with his effort but soon after Zabriskie had left the start house and had set a new best time of 11:25 at the first time check. At the halfway mark, the US National Time Trail champion was just over half a minute up on Phelan and the podium was set for the slightest of re-shuffles.
Danielson could only manage fourth, ensuring the Australian pair would flank Zabriskie on the podium.
"I am very happy to wear the yellow jersey," Zabriskie said following his win. "Today I was fine, I was excited to start my 2012 with a time trial. The course suited me and the roads were great, I had no references in the race lap times, I went by instinct. It is always nice to win, I'm happy."
Stage 2 of the Le Tour de Langkawi continues on Saturday with a 151km sprint stage from Putrajaya to Melaka.
The kids are into crafts and we’re encouraging their artwork. Maybe too much. A little graffiti on the house tends to add a not-so-subtle touch to the décor. But I like it. Encouraged, the boys suggested they ‘tag’ the neighbor’s house too. Well even their free-spirited dad has to draw the line at times and get these boys used to at least a little disappointment.
A Camp Unlike Any Other
I’ve missed the official training camp this year in Spain. It’s the first time in my 13 years as a pro. The team trusts me enough to get my training done at home and show up ready to race. So I stayed in California post the new year as it really didn’t make sense to go to Europe with my first race being in Malaysia. It’s simply easier for me to get there from here and I get to skip a whole lot of unnecessary jet lag. We’ve had some great weather here and I’ve gotten in some great training on the local roads where my motivation is always high and I get to come home after every ride. The local Four Seasons in Westlake Village has even thrown in some support and allowed me use of their sauna in prep for my first race (Le Tour de Langkawi) which will be a hot one. Going to the hotel kind of gave me that camp feeling a little bit…or maybe not.
I recently did a small ride with the Oaks Christian High School Bike Club around the Westlake area. It was great to meet the teacher, Rich, who started the club and is carefully but enthusiastically nurturing his students interest in all things cycling. The kids were cool and fun for me to see how excited they are to ride their bikes. It brought me back to some long forgotten memories of my youth. Because their riding time is limited (it’s in the middle of their school day) these kids even get neutral support on their rides from the local shop, Win’s Wheels. Nice. I saw one of the young riders recently at Starbucks. I said ‘ciao Taylor’ and could tell he was amused by my ability to remember him.
A Different Kind of Recovery
I was pleased to be invited to visit with a group of recovering Vets who were participating in a Ride2Recovery training camp in my area. These were wounded x-military folks who are using the bike to benefit their mental and physical rehabilitation. This is a unique program run by some unique people who know the healing value of the bike. I did a little evening Q&A, took some photos and signed some autographs. The folks were kind and appreciative but it really was I that was blown away by their stories.
Fast, Faster, Fastest
I finally got my hands on the highly anticipated P5 TT bike. I did some photos and tested a few postions in the wind tunnel in San Diego. It is a fast machine. Just looking at it gives me motivation to want to hand out some whoop-ins. It was kind of a last minute deal to go down to San Diego from LA. I was on the last day of a big training block so it was a bit of a rush to finish up in the tunnel and get on the road and get the riding in. I finally hit the road at about 1pm and just went up and down Palomar Mountain until the sun dropped. I ended with nearly 12,000 ft in 60 miles. Finally jumped in the car which for some reason was a team car with a cool dude named Austen behind the wheel. He represents a Tri guy and was in San Diego talking to Cervelo and volunteered to help me out, so thanks Austen. He didn’t complain once and seemed pretty pumped to be helping out which which made the experience all the more enjoyable for me. I finally found a shower (thanks Albert) and then the wife and kids found me and we were back off toward LA.
Let’s Mess That Mouse Up
With a big block in the legs and a few rest days on the horizon I said, ‘WE’RE GOING TO MOTHER-FUCKING DISNEYLAND BITCHES”…ok so maybe I only said that in my head…but we pulled into a hotel called the Grand Californian and it was packed. The parking attendent said, ‘good luck if you don’t have reservations.’ The hotel was full of parents and kids and strollers, really some of the biggest strollers I’ve ever seen. All the rooms were taken and I was cracking fast so I was about to bag it and I said let’s go home. But my 3 year old said ‘Nooooo’. Whoa, he must know that he is close to some magic. So I find a new hotel and they have space, but it takes the guy forever to book me in because he has never had a walk-in before. I was throwing this place for a real loop. I eventually went out to the car with a room key and my son screamed, ‘WOO-HOOOOO!’ Finally a room with a warm bed and excited kids, but I was so tired that suddenly it was only sleep that filled my world.
Morning came soon enough and it was time to find our way into the park. I was buying tickets and dropping major cash like the rest of the crazies when the ticket woman asks, ‘Where you from?’ I know she’s going to try and sell me something I don’t want so I say I’m from Alaska. But then she asks me for my ID and credit card and of course it says California. We eye each other for a brief moment and then she silently smiles.
Walking around Disneyland was quite the experience. I really couldn’t believe how busy it was. I wanted to tweet some pics but I thought my teammates would be a little pissed that they were racing in the cold and snow and here I was at Disneyland. It was cool to walk around with the kids and we put in the full day and night there and the crowds never died down. Favorite ride for the kids was It’s a Small World. Worst moment was when the one year old woke up in the stroller covered in shit. As they say, ‘shit happens’ and sometimes it sqeezes out and goes up the back. Well that sucked big time. We finally said ‘see you later’ to Disneyland, all that magic and dreams coming true and headed for home. I was wired for the drive after I found the Peet’s Coffee and off we went, the whole family charged up from the day.
Tommy D. was in the area for some training but we didn’t really get to ride together. I think he was waking up early trying to get his riding done so he could maximize his family time as his wife is pregnant and not going to be joining him in Europe. However, we did meet up at the press presentation for the Amgen Tour of California. That event was pretty cool as it was held right on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and Tommy and I, Horner and the actor and Amgen’s Breakaway from Cancer spokesperson Patrick Dempsey got to ride with a police escort down the famous boulevard. The press event was fun but also a stark reminder that this race continues to be dialed up. I still can’t believe they’re going to start the last stage in BH. The TT has moved from Solvang and will now be in Bakersfield and is going to be a hard one this year. Actually, I don’t think there’s going to be one easy day during the entire race. Now they are even including Mt. Diablo, which should be some good fun. I do miss the Bay area, but not the rain. Below are a few photos from the press event shot by fellow cyclist and photographer Gus Corona. I hope to see you all at the race.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Kelly Slater (USA), 40, 11-time ASP World Champion and three-time Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast winner, is excited to kick off the 2012 ASP World Title season next week at Snapper Rocks.
Kelly Slater (USA), 40, 11-time Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Champion, has categorically dominated the sport of surfing for the past two decades. The Floridian has collected an astounding 48 elite tour wins throughout his tenure amongst the world’s best surfers and holds virtually every record the surfing world has to offer.
The question on everyone’s mind at the moment is “will Kelly put in a full year at the elite level of competition to defend his throne?”
Historically coy when discussing his annual plans, Slater’s commitment status of “full-time” to the ASP World Title Series traditionally rests upon his performance at the opening event of the season, the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast presented by Land Rover – an event he’s won on three previous occasions (2006, 2008, 2011).
“There have been years when this approach has been a little frustrating but it’s also sort of a wildcard way of deciding,” Slater said. “I’ve had good success on the Goldy and this year should be fun again. I can’t wait to be there. I’m undecided as to whether I’ll apply full time (to the 2012 ASP World Title Series). That’s probably no secret. I’ll go by feel and whatever feels right internally, I’ll stick with that.”
While considered a “citizen of the globe” due to his extensive travels, Slater’s primary residences during this past offseason have been Southern California and the North Shore of Oahu. With an abundance of swell hitting both locations throughout December, January and February, the iconic natural-footer has had plenty of opportunity to ready for the opening event of the year at Snapper Rocks.
“I usually finish prepping for the start of the year by surfing Rincon,” Slater said. “It’s easy to tune in boards quickly there to know what you’re dealing with. I’ve been scoring a lot of surf last few weeks. Probably more water time than normal. I haven’t been riding shortboards a lot though, focusing on mostly barrels and not necessarily performance so I’ll have to tune in to what I’ll have to do in Oz.”
Although having recently turned 40, Slater feels few, if any, physical deficiencies and generally believes he is a stronger all-around surfer and competitor than he was when he first commenced his touring back at age 20.
“I have a few nagging injuries but overall I’m pretty good,” Slater said. “I hurt my ribs pretty badly a couple weeks back but they should be okay by Snapper time. I do feel a little bit of issue there, but I’m planning on being healthier and stronger in the coming years. I’m much better all around now than when I was 20. Probably the hold back is the overall desire to improve day to day. I focus more on enjoying my surfing than expanding day to day, but I still get kicked into gear when I see what everyone is working on and doing. Being in the environment on tour with the guys gets you going pretty quickly.”
The 2012 ASP Top 34 will see a historic age disparity of 23 years between the oldest surfers at the elite level and the youngest. As a new generation of surfers readies to do battle on the ASP Dream Tour, Slater is excited to see how performance levels will continue to soar as well as the how the dynamics of the 2012 ASP World Title race unfold.
“Of course I’m excited to see guys like Dane (Reynolds) and Kolohe (Andino) and Gabriel (Medina) and Julian (Wilson) and Miguel (Pupo) and Josh (Kerr),” Slater said. “Then the usual suspects: Joel (Parkinson), Mick (Fanning), Taj (Burrow), etc. We’ll surely be hearing talks of ASP World Title threats within weeks and it’ll be fun to watch it pan out and see who steps up to the plate and who has trouble dealing with it. It’s always an interesting start to the year.”
The Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast will run from February 25 through March 7, 2012 and will be webcast LIVE via http://quiksilverlive.com/progoldcoast/2012
World Triathlon Corp. is in discussion with Comcast Corp. (CMCSA)’s NBC network about televising live part of its 2012 Ironman World Championship in Hawaii as Lance Armstrong targets a spot in the race.
Andrew Messick, World Triathlon’s chief executive officer, said he’ll be “much more aggressive” in getting television coverage for its marquee race because of Armstrong, a seven-time winner of cycling’s Tour de France. NBC currently televises the annual championship race in Kailua-Kona on tape-delay about two months after it takes place.
“We want to investigate opportunities to be able to potentially put parts of the race live, something that has never been done in the U.S.,” Messick said in an interview yesterday in San Diego, California, where he is attending the Triathlon America Business of Triathlon conference. “Lance brings a spotlight to our sport that’s brighter perhaps than anything that has ever happened.”
NBC Sports is “happy our long-term relationship with Ironman runs through 2018,” spokesman Chris McCloskey said in a telephone interview. He declined to comment further.
Armstrong, 40, finished second in his first 70.3-mile half Ironman race on Feb. 12 in Panama City, Panama, an initial step in his quest to qualify for triathlon’s World Championship. Armstrong was overtaken in the final two miles by New Zealand’s Bevan Docherty, a two-time Olympic medalist.
The race, which consisted of a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and 13.1-mile run, wasn’t televised and there was no live video stream on the Internet. Text updates of the event drew 150,000 unique visitors to Ironman’s website, Messick said, up from about 7,500 for similar races a year earlier.
“The race in Panama came about at the 11th hour and we made a decision that it probably wasn’t the right thing to do to put a ton of audio and video resources behind it,” Messick said. “We had very little time to talk about it and get ourselves organized and do the kind of job that we felt we needed to.”
Armstrong, whose Livestrong cancer charity foundation has a sponsorship agreement with World Triathlon, will also compete in half Ironman events in Texas in April, Florida in May, and Hawaii on June 2.
For those races, Messick said Ironman plans to increase its online coverage to include video and audio to spotlight Armstrong’s participation. Armstrong competed as a professional triathlete at age 18 before focusing on cycling.
“Our opportunity as a sport is to use the fact that we have an athlete like Lance and use it to bring more people into triathlon,” Messick said. “There’s going to be a lot of opportunity for people who successfully embrace that.”
Armstrong will race his first professional 140.6-mile full Ironman event June 24 in Nice, France, as he seeks to earn enough points to qualify for the Oct. 13 World Championship in Hawaii. He currently ranks 58th with 1,200 points. The top 40- ranked professionals by July 29 will qualify.
Monday, February 13, 2012
Lance Armstrong Is Back! Stunning 2nd Place Answers The Question If He Could Return To Triathlon And Win.....
The pre-race hype surrounding today’s Ironman 70.3 Panamá triathlon focused mostly on the fact that seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong would be making his first start in a road triathlon in more than 20 years. Although they didn’t get quite as much pre-race attention, there were other important stories taking shape. Who would take advantage of the early-season opportunity to earn important Kona Pro Ranking (KPR) points? How would two-time Olympic medalist Bevan Docherty fair in his first half-iron distance race in 12 years? Would Leanda Cave show the same great form that led to her first Ironman victory in Arizona at the end of 2011? How would the heat and wind of Panamá affect the outcome? All of these questions were answered.
American Matty Reed, who was the most outspoken about his concerns that Armstrong would receive an unfair advantage with a media circus surrounding him on the bike, led the men out of the Panama canal and into T1. His blazing 1.2-mile swim time of 18:49 came with the help of a current. The time didn’t give him much of an advantage as four men, including Bevan Docherty and Rasmus Henning, were right on his heels. Armstrong turned in the 10th fastest swim of the men, exiting in 19:22 and just ahead of fellow super cyclist Chris Lieto.
It was France’s Bertrand Billard, not Lieto or Armstrong, who pushed the pace early on in the bike. Just 12 miles in, Billard had built a lead of 1:40 over the chase group. About halfway into the bike Armstrong and Lieto took charge, leading the effort to catch the Frenchman. Also in the group with the fast-riding Americans were Henning, Richie Cunningham (AUS), Docherty, Oscar Galindez (BRA) and Romain Guillaume (FRA). Eventually Armstrong, Lieto and Galindez broke away from the rest of the group as they continued to pursue Billard. Billard’s effort on the 56-mile bike course proved to be too much, as Lieto caught him in the final stretch.
It was Lieto leading early efforts on the half-marathon course, with Billard and Armstrong chasing close behind. Billard faded quickly and eventually dropped out. Armstrong’s seemingly conservative effort on the bike paid off. At about three miles into the race Armstrong passed Lieto to take the lead. Armstrong held onto to the front position for the majority of the 13.1 miles, but the win was not meant to be his. A fast-running Docherty passed Armstrong in the final mile of the race to post a run split of 1:12:50 and take the win in 3:50:13. Armstrong’s 1:17:01 half marathon earned him second, finishing just 42 seconds behind Docherty. Cunningham earned the final podium spot thanks to a well-rounded day.
Friday, February 10, 2012
The seven-time Tour de France winner will tackle the testing Ironman France in Nice on June 24 in a bid to qualify for the iconic world title showdown in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on October 13.
Armstrong, 40, will have to master a 2.4mile swim and run a sub-three hour marathon either side of the more familiar territory of a 112mile bike leg if he is to make a successful return to triathlon.
The Texan was a junior state-level swimmer, then moved on to triathlon aged 13, becoming a US sprint-course champion before turning to dominate the world of professional cycling.
Last year he took on the XTERRA (cross country triathlon) world championships, where a heavy mountain bike fall left him dazed and stumbling through the trail run to finish 23rd.
He is hoping to raise $1 million for cancer victims through his LiveStrong foundation and kicks off his racing season by competing in the Ironman 70.3 Panama — a half Iron distance event — on Sunday.
Armstrong's decision comes after prosecutors pursuing long-running doping allegations finally dropped the investigation with no charges being brought.
Adamant he has NEVER failed a drug test, Armstrong became the focus of attention after former team-mate Floyd Landis accused him in 2010 of participating in a doping program. Landis admitted to continual drug taking and was stripped of his own Tour de France title in 2006.
Current and three-time Ironman World Champion Craig Alexander said: "It is exciting to see Lance Armstrong, one of the greatest-ever endurance athletes, coming back to race triathlons in 2012."
Andrew Messick, Chief Exec of the World Triathlon Corporation who run Ironman said: "At 13 years old, Lance got his start in triathlon by racing in the IronKids Series.
"We are happy to have him return to our sport. Lance is a fierce competitor and his involvement with Ironman and Ironman 70.3 is good for triathlon."
After Sunday, Armstrong will race Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 Texas, Ironman 70.3 Florida, Ironman 70.3 Hawaii and Ironman France in an attempt to pick up enough qualifying points to race the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.